The verb γίνομαι occurs about 671 times in the NT and BDAG lists 10 basic meanings for it (see the appendix below). Similarly, Thayer lists many shades of meaning as well. Thus we should not be surprised that it is variously translated depending on context.
Indeed, the verb occurs 11 times in John 1, nine of these in the first 18 verses, three times just in John 1:3, one each in V6, V10, V12, V14, V15 & V17. (See also V28, 30) These all occur with a slightly different meaning.
John 1:6 - Ἐγένετο ἄνθρωπος
"there came a man", is how John describes the origin of John the Baptist's preparatory ministry of preaching repentance. It does not describe the origin of John himself (for which see Luke) but the origin of his ministry and the fact that he was sent by the Holy Spirit.
John 1:14 - Καὶ ὁ Λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο
"the word became flesh". Note that whatever one's Christology, this plainly describes a transformation of the "word" to become "flesh". Again, John does not describe how this occurred, but simply stated that such a transformation occurred.
Now, while both words occur in similar grammatical form (aorist indicative middle for V6; aorist indicative active for V14) they have a quite different syntactical and semantic context and thus must be translated slightly differently. Most modern versions get these fairly correct:
- V6: There came a man sent from God (BSB, BLB, NASB, ASV, etc). "was" (in the sense of "exist") is not completely wrong but missed the poiunt of John coming along because he was sent by God
- V14: The word became flesh (NIV, BSB, ESV, NASB, HCSB, ASV, etc)
I see little justification for the outdated KJV translations of "was" (v6) and "was made" (V14); further "was made" is passive and the Greek is active.
APPENDIX - Headline meanings for γίνομαι as per BDAG
Here I list only the basic meanings (without even the sub-meanings) from BDAG
- to come into being through a process of birth or natural production, be born, be produced
- to come into existence, be made, be created, be manufactured, be performed
- come into being as an event or phenomenon from a point of origin, arise, come about, develop
- to occur as process or result, happen, turn out, take place (this has eith sub-meanings depending on the case of the associated nouns)
- to experience a change in nature and so indicate entry into a new condition, become something, eg, (with nouns) John 1:14. (see below)
- to make a change of location in space, move
- to come into a certain state or possess certain characteristics, to be, prove to be, turn out to be
- to present at a given time, be there, eg, John 1:6
- to be closely related to someone or something, belong to (with four sub-meanings)
- to be in or at a place, be in, be there
For more details, see the very extensive entry in BDAG.